“Hotel Dusk: Room 215” is a criminally underrated video game for the Nintendo DS. It’s a puzzle solving, mystery, adventure game all in one, and as close to video game perfection as you can find. Not only is it a great brain tickler, but it also has a film noir style of story-telling and well thought out, well written characters that feel more like real people than two dimensional AI beings. To top it all off, there is a gorgeous soundtrack for it. I’m telling you all this for two reasons. Reason number one: Not a lot of people know about this game, and the bankruptcy of the developer, Cing, doesn’t help that. Reason number two: I got this game by sheer accident. Money was burning a hole in my pocket so I went to the store, picked up the game and said, “Hey, this looks cool,” and bought it! And it is my absolute favorite video game…but something almost changed my mind…
The basic plot of the game is that you play as Kyle Hyde, an ex-cop who is in a dumpy hotel working as a salesman, and has dedicated his life to finding his double crossing ex-partner. Along the way you meet a young woman named Mila who cannot speak. Through the course of clues given to you from her though, it is deduced that she has been to this hotel before. I believe it is in Chapter 9 that you go to Room 111 to look for more clues, and during this Mila has a revelation and begins talking again, and you learn that she was here as a little girl with another girl named Jenny.
It was my second time playing through the game. I read online that there are new game pluses, so I figured it be worth playing through an amazing game for new stuff. I got to that section in Chapter 9 where you go into Room 111 to look for clues, but I noticed something was different. When you enter the room, the maid, Rosa, and Mila are usually waiting for you in the den. However, they weren’t there this time. So I’m thinking, hey, must be a new game plus. So I shrugged it off and decided to head into the back section of the room, which was the bedroom.
I got in the bedroom and immediately noticed what was new. I saw two little girls sitting at the foot of the bed playing with dolls. One was a blonde and one was a brunette. I was bewildered because I could tell that this was supposed to be the young Mila and Jenny. But time travel didn’t seem to fit into the realistic nature of the story…
Kyle’s face appeared which meant he had something to say. The dialogue box popped up.
KYLE: Oh, God…
Though it was just text, I wondered if Kyle was supposed to sound frightened. What sealed the deal though was Kyle’s expressions. Playing through the game before, I had come to memorize practically all of Kyle’s preset facial expressions…but this one was new. He looked uncomfortable…almost scared. This new game plus was beginning to worry me.
Just then, Mila and Jenny’s faces filled the two screens. This signified a conversation was about to begin. What was weird was that for the first few boxes of dialogue the text looked foreign, but on closer examination, the text was English characters that were chopped and jumbled up, like it was put in a blender. The girls looked like they were having fun through the screwed up dialogue. Then it was Jenny’s turn to speak.
JENNY: Wanna play a game?
Mila didn’t say anything but she nodded enthusiastically.
JENNY: Great! Come with me…
The girls’ faces faded off the screens and the sound effect of a door shutting emanated from the speakers of the DS. This implied the girls had left the room. I was put back into the game and began to move involuntarily. I tried tapping all over the touch screen and pushing every button, but nothing slowed Kyle down. I had an uneasy feeling spreading through me like ice water, which finally reached its peak as Kyle left Room 111.
The cheery music played through the halls of Hotel Dusk was now chopped and screwed like some sick remix. Parts played in reverse, at high speed, and slow motion. But that wasn’t the most unsettling part. The walls now had red text all over them. Phrases like “Pat-a-cake” and “Ring around the rosies” and other childhood games were repeated over and over again. Kyle’s face appeared again, with that same uncomfortable look on his face. He kept moving through the lobby and to the hallway without my controlling him. I could feel my heart rate increasing.
Kyle then began to move up the stairs. Another noticeable difference was that instead of fading to black and appearing on the second floor, the camera actually moved up the stairs slowly. Kyle’s face bore into me like nails and, although it may have been my imagination, began to look more afraid with each step he took.
Kyle finally reached the second floor, but that’s all it was, a floor. The hallway’s walls were now black and all the doors had disappeared. The camera shifted to the left and Kyle kept moving.
The hairs on my neck stood on end as I noticed the twisted music had begun to fade out and I began to hear…a young girl…crying softly. I wanted to shut off the game and never play it again but something kept me entranced and awaiting what would happen next. Kyle kept moving down the hallway, the draw distance very short, as if everything within two steps was a shadow.
Little red dots began to show up on the floor and my stomach churned as the spots got larger and larger and the crying got closer and closer. Finally, Kyle stopped in his tracks, his expression now terrified and pained. The shadows began to fade away to reveal Jenny sitting on the floor…and a little blonde girl in a white dress…now stained red. Mila…I felt the name in the back of my throat, like I wanted to scream it out in terror and anguish. But Jenny turned around, and her face appeared on screen.
Her eyes were now replaced by black holes, and the sight was such a surprise I jumped as my heart skipped several beats. A dialogue box appeared.
JENNY: Oh…do you wanna play, too…?
Jenny’s morbid face grew an innocent smile and I yelped slightly as that terrifying face filled both screens for a split second, before cutting to black.
The Game Over screen faded in but it was different. Normally you would see an image of Kyle carrying his briefcase to his car…but Kyle was gone…and I knew that Jenny had done it…
Trembling, I tapped the Try Again option, and to my surprise, the game started over from the very beginning. I was so shocked that I kept playing the game for the next few days…and the game was completely normal again, with the intended new game pluses that I had read about online.
But I had so many questions left unanswered. Why was Jenny doing this? And more importantly, why did it happen only one time? I’ve searched the far realms of the “Hotel Dusk” fandom on the internet but I cannot find a single case of this occurring anywhere else. So the truth is, I will never know what happened that one play through. But each time I begin a new game on “Hotel Dusk: Room 215,” I break in a cold sweat whenever I enter Room 111…